This is a recurring series by Mistress Alys Mackyntoich on whether certain names currently can be documented to period based on existing evidence.. There are a lot of names that people think are medieval, but actually aren’t, and others which people think are modern, but in fact are found in the SCA’s period. If you would like to suggest a name, send an email to the Gazette.
Today’s name is Fiona.
Although many people, including several authors who should know better,
think that Fiona is a medieval Irish or Scots name, it was invented by a
19th century author who was trying to make it something that sounded
“Celtic.” Despite SCA name heralds’ having spent a great deal of time
looking for period evidence of Fiona, we haven’t found any yet.
We have found evidence of a very old Gaelic name, Fine (with an acute accent
on the i) which can be dated to 805 C.E. and is pronounced sort of like
“Fee-na”. Fena and Fina appear in late-period England. So for someone
wanting to be “Fiona Mac Fergus,” I’d suggest either the 9th cen. Gaelic
“Fine ingen Fergusa” or the 16th cen. Anglo-Scots “Fina MacFergus”